Theodore Roethke, an American Romantic

Theodore Roethke, an American Romantic

Theodore Roethke, an American Romantic

Theodore Roethke, an American Romantic

Excerpt

Since the publication of Open House in 1941, critics have been at work on Theodore Roethke, trying to come to terms with a poet of major standing in American literature. Among the earliest critics were W. H. Auden, Stanley Kunitz, and Kenneth Burke, and their pioneering essays are still useful. But it is only since the poet's death in 1963 that we have had Roethke's work before us, making it possible to find the larger patterns in his work. A clutch of introductory surveys and specialized studies has already appeared, and no doubt this is only the beginning. For no single reading of any good poet is final. Just as each new generation of poets modifies the view of the previous one, so critics participate in an ongoing critical act. The individual critic's eye may be thought of as a lens that colors a particular text; of course, the better the critic, the lighter the tint, but absolute transparency remains a hypothetical ideal. Criticism is, at its practical best, collaborative; we are lucky in this regard, for a critical milieu has materialized around Roethke. I have used this situation to my advantage in this study, making clear my innumerable debts throughout. This is not simply an introduction to Roethke Collected Poems. It is an attempt to isolate major patterns in the work, to discover the poet's mythos, and to relate his body of writing to the Romantic tradition, its proper context. Roethke was a remarkably self-conscious artist, fully aware of his predecessors and his relation to them. This relationship is complex, for Roethke was not merely an imitator of other poets; he carried on what amounts to an elaborate dia-

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.